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What seems like "monkeying around" is really a valuable lesson for this baby chimp. Chimps are toolmakers just like humans, and just like humans, the first teacher that a baby chimp will have is its mother. Watch this baby chimp learn the do's and dont's of safari ant hunting.

 


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DNA Day at the Orlando Science Center is just a month away, so in honor of this amazing molecule I thought it would be neat to look over some genetics news.

This article is from last year, but the research continues. Neanderthals, or cavemen, have long been thought to be dull, slow and stupid, (thus the whole Geico thing about being so easy a caveman could do it). Ever since the reconstruction of the remains at La Chapelle aux Saints in 1911 by Marcellin Boule, the general public has had the idea that Neanderthals stood hunched-over, with their arms drooping down and that they moved slowly. In fact, this is a mistake. The remains from La Chapelle Aux Saints turn out to be those of an old man who had severe arthritis. Of course he would have walked slowly and been hunched over, but Boule thought this idea applied to all Neanderthals.

Much work had been done since then, but analyzing bones can only get you so far. That’s where this study comes in; a group of researchers from the Max Planck Institute are looking into DNA preserved in different specimens. What can we tell from this? For one, we can see how different Neanderthals really were from modern humans and we can get ideas about why you don’t see more cavemen around today.

If you think this is cool, imagine what it would be like to ask one of these researchers questions about their findings. On May 7, DNA Day, you can have that chance; Dr. Emily Hodges from the research team will be available via Skype for questions!

For more information, click here to view the full article.

Stephanie is a Science Interpreter at the Science Center and often is found in DinoDigs or Careers for Life. Paleontology, Anthropology and Anatomy are her passion and jumps at every opportunity to talk about it. Stop in and say Hello!

 


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Mecury_Messenger_Pic_1

On August 3, 2004 NASA launched the MESSENGER discovery mission, an unmanned spacecraft set to send back pictures of  the entire planet of Mercury.  This mission  is monumental because this is the first spacecraft to orbit Mercury and the first pictures of Mercury we will have from a spacecraft since Mariner 10 in 1974. The magnetic pull of the sun coupled with the intense heat have made it very difficult to obtain any images of the sunny side of Mercury. Until now we have only had recorded images of 45 percent of the planet‘s surface. Scientists researched and found  the best way around this dilemma is through the inner solar system.

When MESSENGER launched from Earth  in 2004 it began an eight year path into Mercury’s orbit. First it flew by Earth once, then by Venus twice, and took a flyby of Mercury. In 2008 the MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) craft made its initial approach and took pictures of regions of Mercury that have never been seen before by the human eye.  Last month on March 17, 2011 the MESSENGER craft successfully entered the orbit of Mercury.  On March 29th we got the first pictures back of Mercury from orbit and they are spectacular! The MESSENGER mission will continue collecting data for another year.

Scientists hope that from this mission we will gain more insight into the mysteries of Mercury including its geologic features, its core and density, its thin atmosphere yet presence of a magnetic field, the unusual materials at the poles, and possibly clues to the evolution of the solar system itself.

 Mercury_Messenger_Pic_2

 Find out more about Mercury and the other planets in our solar system by visiting The Orlando Science Center and exploring our permanent exhibit on astronomy and Earth Science, Our Planet, Our Universe.

Two articles from National Geographic Website:

http://newswatch.nationalgeographic.com/2011/03/14/nasa_mercury_messenger_enter_orbit/

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2011/03/pictures/110330-messenger-mercury-from-orbit-nasa-space-first-pictures-science/?source=link_tw20110330news-mercury

Keep up with The MESSENGER:

http://messenger.jhuapl.edu

http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/messenger/main/


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Here's a great spotlight on the Energize Video Game we helped develop!



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If you find normal crocodiles to be a little frightening check out the jaws on this guy!

Pepesuchus deiseae is a newly discovered crocodyliform, a group that includes modern-day alligators, which lived during the late Cretaceous period, between 99 million to 65 million year ago. The fossil skull was found at a site called Sao Paulo in Brazil by paleontologists from the Brazilian National Museum. It can currently be found in the Federal University of Rio de Janerio’s National Museum with other fossils that were discovered In Brazil.

Croc


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Wondering why you always feel hotter when wearing black instead of a light color? Try this experiment to prove that there are valid reasons for this to occur. This experiment looks at different types of colors reacting to the sun and which one will generate and capture more heat. Check it out!

What You Will Need:

  • 2 Identical Drinking Glasses or Jars
  • Water
  • Thermometer
  • 2 Elastic Bands
  • White Paper
  • Black Paper

Instructions:

  1. Wrap the white paper around one of the glasses using an elastic band or sellotape to hold it on.
  2. Do the same with the black paper and the other glass
  3. Fill the glass with the exact same amount of water
  4. Leave the glasses out in the sun for a couple of hours before returning to measure the temperature of the water in each.

What is Happening?

Dark surfaces such as the black paper absorb more light and the heat than the lighter one such as the white paper. After measuring the temperatures of the water, the glass with the black paper around it should be hotter than the other. Lighter surfaces reflect more light, that’s why people with lighter colored clothes in the summer keep cooler.


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Did you know that talking on a cell phone for a prolonged period might actually increase brain activity? Cell phones emit energy in the form of electromagnetic radiation and scientists are on a mission to figure out what effects this can have on the brain.

According to Science News, a recent experiment took place where 47 participants had two cell phones strapped against each ear. The phone on the left ear was turned off and the phone on the right ear played a 50-minute message, but was set to silent. Their goal was to study brain activity from the phone itself, not brain activity from listening and engaging in conversation. Scientist used a PET (positron emission tomography) Scan to study the brain activity. The test allows us to see what is going on inside of the body using injections of radioactive material to measure chemical reactions in the brain and creating three-dimensional pictures.

The results of the PET scan showed that the left side of the brain had no changes from the experiment. Conversely, the right side of the brain was using large amounts of glucose, almost as much as a person talking. Glucose is a sugar that provides fuel to the brain. These results allow scientists to conclude that brain cells are active even when the participants hearing nothing. The activity was most likely set-off by the radiation from the cell phone.

The experiment arose from the question “Are there any health risks involve with cell phone usage?”  There is still considerable debate, but scientists who believe there are give a few suggestions to be on the safe side:

  • Do not talk for long periods of time with a cell phone pressed against your head.
  • Keep your conversations short and sweet or use speakerphone.
Brain_Activity
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Orlando Science Center • 777 E. Princeton Street • Orlando, Florida 32803 • Phone: 407.514.2000 • Toll Free: 888.OSC.4FUN • Email: [email protected]
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